Glossary

Social Engineering

Easy

Social engineering is the use of deception to manipulate people into performing an action or giving away their secret information.

What Is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is a malicious activity that uses human interactions to trick users into making mistakes that compromise their confidential information or simply giving it away. Since it is used to steal online identities,  social engineers are often called "cybercriminals." Cybercriminals have used social engineering for years to obtain personal information from vulnerable internet users who lack information related to internet security. Since most internet users prefer not to use antivirus applications and disregard security rules to prevent themselves from hacks, a large number of users fall a victim to such criminal activities. 

Cybercriminals often use psychological manipulation, such as impersonating an employee from the company one works for and getting access to personal accounts.

Although there are several other exploitation techniques, social engineering relies on human error, making it difficult to identify. Mistakes made by legitimate users can be much more unpredictable than malware-based intrusions that rely heavily upon vulnerabilities in software and operating systems. Social engineering gives cybercriminals a better chance of getting past security measures simply because human errors are inevitable.

Types of Social Engineering

Social engineering can be compared to a chess game, except that instead of using pieces on a board, criminals are trying to use people's emotions. There are different kinds of attacks, including baitings that involve luring users in with something they want and then taking it away from them once their guard is down. Other types include scareware that involves faking as if something has gone wrong when everything is fine; pretexting where someone poses as another person online. Other notable ones are phishing and spear phishing. All these attacks rely on initially building trust, creating a sense of urgency, and then heightening the emotions to manipulate the user into making an error so that the cybercriminal spearing the attack can steal the user's identity.

Social Engineering Technique

A social engineering attack cycle is a systematic way to gain access and sensitive information from users, using their vulnerability. These criminals tend not to use brute force methods because it helps them keep a track of what users are doing on their computer or phone without being detected by anti-virus programs.

The cycle involves gathering background info about someone then establishing trust through interactions initiated either directly or through interactions seeded at various points during online chats/conversations via email attachments etc. Then in the third phase, the attacker exploits the user's trust and manipulates them to take the desired action. In the last phase, the attacker disengages themselves from the user.

Social Engineering Attacks in Crypto World

In the crypto world, cybercriminals are mostly targeting the social media accounts of prominent personalities of the crypto industry. After gaining access, they use the pre-built trust of these personalities to exploit people in multiple ways. Secondly, they are also targeting users to get access to their private wallets.

How to Prevent Yourself From Social Engineering?

Social engineering attacks are a huge problem in the world of cybersecurity. Preventing them is a top priority for many businesses, organizations, and individuals. The best practices to be employed are:

  • Set spam filters on all email accounts so even if attackers manage to get access to them, they won't be able to send any messages or access anything sensitive with ease. 

  • One should never use the same password across different accounts as many accounts have been compromised in the world of cryptocurrency due to this issue. 

  • Ensure every website requires you to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) system (something that requires you to verify your identity twice, firstly, through your password and, secondly, another method) and multi-factor authentication whenever possible. 
  • Finally, educate everyone about these threats by making security education part of the curriculum.